A heavy metal band more interested in pursuing melody than displaying muscle, Earth to Andy is the promising offspring of two indie East Coast bands: Washington's Egypt and Charlottesville's Red Henry.
With plenty of help from producer Nick Launay, best known for his work with Semisonic, Silverchair, Talking Heads and INXS, the quartet combines a fierce rhythmic wallop with catchy themes and cool, wrap-around harmonies. Echoes of Led Zeppelin and Queen are apparent on some tracks, particularly "Biting at My Heels," "Smoke Rings" and "Still After You," which tend to emphasize lead guitarist Tony Lopacinski's brawny tone, the upper, crooning register favored by lead singer (and one-name frontman) Andy and Eastern-flavored orchestral weaves.
While Stone Temple Pilot and bassist Robert DeLeo pops up on the album for a brief cameo, the quartet doesn't need to lean on guests to make a strong impression. The songwriting is definitely a cut above the average, ranging from solid hard rock anthems to topical refrains, and the tracks are layered in ways that hold a lot of surprises and contrasts.
What really sets the album apart from the pack, though, are the recurring melodies that prove that even in heavy metal circles, might isn't always right.
Appearing Saturday at the 9:30 club with Everything.
* To hear a free Soundbite from Earth to Andy, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8102. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)
CAPTION: Earth to Andy: Far above much of their competition.